ORLANDO, Fla. -- Following the devastation of the 2004 hurricane season, more than $320 million has been set aside to date for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the state. This is a record amount of federal funding for such projects in the history of the State of Florida.
FEMA has received more than 800 applications for the HMGP in Florida—another record.
“There is no better time than when rebuilding to incorporate construction upgrades that will make a property less vulnerable to wind or water,” said Scott R. Morris, director of long-term recovery for FEMA in Florida. “Mitigation is a large part of FEMA’s mission to help prevent and prepare for future disasters, particularly in a state like Florida where they are so common. In effect, we are trying to work ourselves out of a job here.”
Along with the State of Florida, applicants include universities, city and county governments, health departments, water management districts, schools, and fire and rescue districts. Most applications are for wind retrofit, elevation, acquisition and demolition, and drainage projects.
“Experts have found that spending a little money now can save hundreds of thousands of dollars later,” said Larry Koslick, statewide recovery manager. “For example, more than $8,000 has been approved to retrofit the town hall in Palm Shores, Brevard County, with shutters. This expenditure could save as much as $500,000 in damages during the next hurricane.”
In Florida, the local mitigation strategy committees establish funding priorities for the HMGP and select projects based on those priorities. The state also ensures that the FEMA regional director has approved the State Hazard Mitigation Plan and the state's administrative plan for implementing the HMGP.
The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is a collaboration of Florida’s state agencies led by the state coordinating officer. SERT’s mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate their impacts. Visit www.floridadisaster.org for the latest information on the hurricane relief efforts.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.